A tiny lab in Ames is about to get a huge payday. The US Department of Energy announced a $120-million grant for the Ames Laboratory. With the cash, the lab will study ways of improving rare materials used in everything from cell phones and computers, to electric cars and windmills.
“A lot of things we have in our daily lives these days use fairly exotic materials.” says Ames Laboratory director Alex King, “Things with names like neodymium and dysprosium that are not commonly known to the man in the street, but they have it in their pocket…there’s only one source for them. It’s China. And China needs a lot of those materials for its own manufacturing industries and that’s a problem for the rest of the world.”
With some of the money, the lab also plans to hire 60-more researchers.